Leif Rydell

Travel, birding and taking photos as the main purpose.

Lake Victoria and Bagamoyo

In June 2017 I made a private visit to my friend Robert Shilingi who lives in Kibaha one hour west of Dar es Saalam. We had earlier decided to visit his home village Ukerewe which is in Lake Victoria. Going up there is really an adventure. Not many "white" people visit this area and my presence was quite an event for some of the locals. We flew from Dar to Mwansa and met a relative to Robert who should be our driver for the next 4 days. Robert wanted me first to see Saanane Island N.P which actually is the smallest N.P in Africa. It is a 30 min boat ride from Mwansa and not so many people around. As there are no dangerous animals on the island you are free to walk around as much as you want. There are som Zebras and antelopes but also some good birds.

Saanane Island N.P.

The island is very beautiful with some patches of forest and also some peaks. I found the endemic Swamp Flycatcher at nest and at the highest peak I was surprised to find one Madagaskar Bee-eater.

Swamp Flycatcher

Madagaskar Bee-eater

On the way back down I felt lucky when I saw my first African Pygmy Kingfisher and at some rocks the stunning Cliff Chat.

Af. Pygmy Kingfisher

Cliff Chat

The next morning we started the long drive  towards Ukerewe. Half way we stopped at the excellent Zeke Bay Lodge for lunch and some birding in the nearby areas. The bird thet was on the top of my list was the Three-banded Courser, which breeds here. A local guide gave me some directions and even if it took a while before I found it, it was worth it. What a gem!

Three-banded Courser

Three-banded Courser

The restaurant and the accommodation is in a perfect spot. Right here a saw this magnificent Eastern Paradise Whydah and a family of African Thrushes.

Eastern paradise Whydah


On bad roads we continued our trip and finally reached the ferry for Ukerewe. From there it was only a short ride to Robert's home village. A very nice experience to meet his relatives and be this far away from the standard routes for tourists. We walked through different plantations and also visited some historical sites. Here a saw some raptors, the very common Black Kite (Yellow-billed) and the less common Af. Harrier Hawk and a Western Banded Snake eagle which was a new bird for me.

Black Kite (Yellow-billed)

Af. Harrier Hawk

Western banded Snake-eagle

Swimming in Lake Victoria is not advisable as both crocs and hippos call this lake their home. Taking nice walks along the shores is no problem though. I found both Swamp F.C and Af. Pygmy K.F. in the same bush and even if it's not a very good picture I still find it quite amuzing.

Swamp FC + Af. Pygmy KF

I also saw many herons and kingfishers and among them this Little Heron, Grey-headed Kingfisher and Pied Kingfishers.

Little Egret

Grey-headed Kingfisher

Pied Kingfisher

Pied Kingfisher

One of my best experiences here was a visit to the nearby "fishing island". This place is a 45 minutes boat ride (hand powered by three local boys). Out here fishermen stay for several months and sleep and live under easy circumstances. All fishing is done by hand and takes both time and effort from these people.

Fishing island outside Ukerewe Island

Out here I also found some colonies of herons and weavers. Again a Little Heron and the local specialty, the Northern Brown-throated Weaver.

Little Egret

N. Brown-throated Weaver

In some reed I also got close up to the local sunbird here, the Red-chested Sunbird as well as the Af. Reed-warbler.

Red-chested Sunbird

Af. Reed Warbler

In the ceiling at Robert's house I found these cute Ethiopean Epauletted Fruit-bats. These creatures continue to fascinate me.

Ethiopian epauletted fruit bat

We had three lovely days here before we took the big ferry back to Mwanza. At this ferry terminal I saw this Hadada Ibis and a lonely Af. Open-billed Stork.

Hadada Ibis

Af. Open-billed Stork

As we returned to Kibaha for some more days and also visiting some students I know from our former exchange programs I also had the oppotunity to again visit Bagamoyo. I wanted to visit this area in summer time to have the chance of seeing some resident waders in breeding plumage. On my wanting list was both Kitltz's Plover and White-fronted Plover, which I both have seen many years ago, but only in dull winter plumages. My satisfaction was complete when I found both these stunners with help from a local boy who showed me where to go between the salt lakes here.

Local guide and me Bagamoyo

Kittlitz's Plover

White-fronted Plover

Not as high up on my list as I have seem then several times before were also this Water Thick-knee and the Three-banded Plover.

Water Thick-knee

Three-banded Plover

Not far from these salt lakes you find some nice bushy habitat where I found this White-fronted Bee-eater. The picture is not fullt sharp but I still find this photo one of my best.

White-fronted Bee-eater

Every-time I have visited Bagamoyo I have seen the gorgeous N. Carmine Bee-eater. This time in poor light and a dull telephone line but still one of the most beautiful birds to be found.

N. Carmine Bee-eater

My last photo from this trip will be on this young Sulphur-breasted Bush-Shrike I saw next to Kibaha School. Asante sana, Tanzania!

Sulphur-fronted Bush-Shrike

Tanzania bird list June 2017

Excluding the most common/ frequent birds. (p) photo availible.

Around Kibaha edu. Center and the nearby water treatment areas.

 Af. Pygmy Goose               3                   (p)

Malachite KF                     2

Little Bee-eater                 10                 (p)

Common Scimitarbill        2

Af. Grey Hornbill               5-6

Red-fronted Tinkerbird   1

Spot-flanked Barbet         2 at nest

Mosque Swallow               5-6 breeding around the school

Zanzibar Sombre Bulbul  1-2                (p)

White-browed R-chat      1-2

Red-faced crombec          3-4                (p)

Sulphur-br Bush-shrike  2                   (p)

Grey-head Bush-shrike    1

Violet-backed Starling      4

Red-billed Quelea             2

Red-collared Widowbird 3 Males

Cut-throat Finch               2

 Bagamoyo salt plants (coastal and inland)

 White-face Wh-duck        7                                         (p)

Red-billed Teal                 15                                       (p)

Curlew sanpiper               +200

Terek sandpiper               2-3

C Greenshank                   +10

March sandpiper              5-6

Little Stint                          2 (one in breed plum)

Three-banded Plover      2                                         (p)

White-fronted Plover       5-6 + 10                            (p)

Kitlitz´s Plover                   2 + 6                                  (p)

Water Thick-knee             2 + 1                                  (p)

Pied KF                              +10                                    (p)

Long-tailed cormorant     2                                         (p)

Malachite KF                     1

Wh-fronted Bee-eater     3                                         (p)

E. paradise-whydah         2

 Ruvu-river Ranch (+bridge where highway cross)

Black-headed Batis           2

Amethyst Sunbird            1

Wh-browed Scrub-robi   1

Z Sombre Bulbul               2-3

Pin-tailed Whydah                                 3

E-Paradise-Whydah                              1

Several unidentified Cisticolas and whydas

Saanane NP

 Pied KF                              +50

Pygmy KF                          1                   (p)

Grey-headed KF               1

Little-Bee-eater                 10

Madagaskar Bee-eater     1                   (p)

Plain Martin                                            10

Spot-flanked barbet         2

Ruppel´s Robin-chat         2                   (p)

Cliff Chat                           2 + 2             (p)

Red-winged Starling        3                   (P)

Green-winged Pytilia       2

Green-ba camaroptera    2

Winding Cisticola              2

Red-chested Sunbird       1 male

N Brown-throated Wea   3                   (p)

Black Bishop                      10

Af. Fish-eagle                     2 

Speke Bay Lodge (only 2 hours spent around the lodge/ lunch)

 Three-banded Courser    2 at nest       (p)

Blue-naped Mousebird    2

Blue-ca Cordon Bleu        +10

Af. Firefinch                       1

Green-winged Pytilia       2

Grey-backed Fiscal           4

Chin-spot Batis                 1

Silverbird                          3-4

Swamp FC                         5                   (p)

Grey-capped warbler       3

Angola swallow                 20

Plain Martin                                            4

Stout Cisticola                   2                   (p)

Red-chested Sunbird       3                   (p)

E. Paradise Whydah         1                   (p)

Slender-billed weaver     +10               (p)

Ostrich                               6-7 (along the road)

Ukerewe Island

 Hammerkop                                            2

Pink-backed Pelican         1

Osprey                               2

Af. Harrier Hawk               2-3

W Band snake-eagle        1                   (p)

Af Grey Hornbill                3

Grey Kestrel                                            1

Pygmy KF                          3

Collared Sunbird              +10

Variable Sunbird              +5

Red-chested Sunbird       3-4                (p)

Black-billed Barbet           2                   (p)

Brown-thro wattle-eye    1

Grey-capped warbl          1

Yellow-bel eremomela     2

Swamp Fc                          +5                 (p)

Winding Cisticola              2-3

Yellow White-eye             2 + 2

Swahili Sparrow               3-4

Grey-h sparrow                3







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